Reading deprivation in the 21st century

by Rebecca A. Watson on September 13, 2011

in change, habits, the artist's way, writing

Are you surprised I’m writing again after such a short reprieve? You shouldn’t be, considering my assignment this week in The Artist’s Way.

Yesterday was shear terror, mind you, at the idea of not reading for a week, partly because I couldn’t research it on Google in order to get some newer guidelines.

The book was written in 1992, so the interwebs was just a baby in the public eye. But just because it’s celebrating its 20th year around, doesn’t mean it’s old. I mean, c’mon, there were lots of great things happening in the early  ’90s.

But what she does say is this:

Reading deprivation casts us into our inner silence, a space some of us being to immediately fill with new words — long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant, chatty companion. We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist’s inspiration, above the static. In practicing reading deprivation, we need to cast a watchful eye on these other pollutants. They poison the well.

So, since I’m swimming on my own in this big ocean (how did information nerds live before the Internet?), I’ve decided to come up with my own rules for not reading:

  1. No reading email, although I will check it during the week, open and respond to any of my clients needs. I consider an email to be the modern equivalent to a phone call, and ignoring a business phone call for a week is just bad form. However, any of my newsletters, alerts and friendly correspondence will have to wait. No opening. No reading. It’s gonna take some discipline, but I think I can hang.
  2. No reading blogs. No researching. No meandering through the Googlesphere. *pout*
  3. No social media, unless it’s for a client. I will not click on my alerts. I will not read status updates an tweets. I will not pass go. Social media is a necessary part of my income, and I’m pretty sure my clients and husband would rather I not take a week off from my work. (I originally thought it was OK to post updates via social media, but the whole point is interaction, so really, why post something if you can’t respond or interact. It’s TORTURE.)
  4.  No music via headphones. For me, this is the quickest way to tune out the world and my inner voice.
  5. TV is only allowed in small doses, which means less than 30 minutes.
So there you have it folks. A simple guide I will adhere to for a week. Wish me luck as I head out into the world completely naked. I’m serious! I rode the bus today without book or iPod or phone and, to break it down to its bare bones, I felt really vulnerable. Is that weird?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

M Mesah August 21, 2017 at 6:37 am

What about texts? Do you read and reply to them?


Rebecca Watson August 22, 2017 at 9:27 am

You mean emails? If you read No.1 in the rule list, I open and reply to business emails only. No newsletters, personal emails, etc.


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